One of the most outstanding features of a truly standing-out Trump Presidency to date is how precisely the actual policy developments, when we clear away the deliberate smoke and mirrors of tweets and scandal, follow a basic strategy of Washington geopolitics going back to at least 1992. This is the case in the latest unfortunate and quite illegal unilateral decision to leave the Iran nuclear agreement. This is also the case in the relentless Cold War-style demonization campaign against Russia and the deployment of insidious new sanctions. This is also the case with the looming trade war the Trump Administration has initiated with the Peoples’ Republic of China.
Contrary to a widely-held belief that US President Trump acts only out of impulse or is being unpredictable, I believe that the opposite is the case. Strategic geopolitical policies of the Trump Administration are a response, not of the President himself, but rather of the powers that be, the permanent establishment who actually control what is sometimes called the Deep State. The geopolitics of that policy determines to a large degree who they allow to be President.
The first official formulation of today’s Washington foreign policy came in 1992 when Dick Cheney was Defense Secretary under Bush senior. The Soviet Union had collapsed and Bush triumphantly declared America as Sole Superpower. Cheney’s deputy secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, was responsible for developing a Defense Planning Guidance, 1994-1999. It was blunt, and later described bySenator Ted Kennedy as imperialist. In part the unedited Wolfowitz Doctrine declared
“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere…to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”
Under George W. Bush the Wolfowitz Doctrine re-emerged as the Bush Doctrine after 2002 in the runup to the Iraq war, declaring unilateralism and use of preventative war as central to US policy.